Scotland's Games squad teams up for glory

SOME of the strongest competitors at this year's Commonwealth Games were unveiled against the backdrop of the ­Titan Crane.

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The weightlifting, judo and gymnastics teams have been unveiled
The weightlifting, judo and gymnastics teams have been unveiled

Along with the gymnastics and judo teams, the weightlifting squad ­increased Team Scotland by 29, making it the biggest ever squad at a Games.

Among the gymnasts was 24-year-old Daniel Keatings, whose career has been repeatedly blighted by injury dating back to the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne where his Scotland debut ended in agony and a diagnosis that he had three spinal stress fractures.

His recovery brought success at European and World level, including becoming the first British gymnast to win an all-round medal at the World Championships in 2009.

However, ankle ligament damage contributed to him missing out on the London Olympics where Daniel Purvis - who is joining him in a Scotland Commonwealth Games team for the first time - won a bronze medal.

He said: "In 2012, I was injured a lot and didn't get selected for the Olympics and that was always in the back of my mind. Before that I'd never been overlooked in selection, so it's a bit of a relief."

"After what happened with the Olympics it makes you realise that it doesn't come around often."

The two Daniels were among a number of English-born Scotland team members announced yesterday.

Sally Conway, one of the judo players who has ­accrued sufficient dans to make the grade, admitted she had no reason to take special interest when, the last time her sport was ­included in the Games at Manchester 12 years ago, Graeme Randall won judo gold for Scotland.

However, all that changed when, in spite of having no Scottish connections, she was persuaded to move to Scotland when she was 18.

She said: "I was in Bristol at the time. I didn't know I was going to be Scottish ­until I moved up, but I wouldn't change it now.

"I left school and went to do full-time training and then my judo coach at the time said I should come up and train full-time with the set-up in Edinburgh and see how you like it.

"I did a couple of weeks, absolutely loved the training , loved the whole atmosphere, loved Edinburgh, then went back home for a month, but I decided this is what I want to do.

"So I packed my bags, my dad drove me up to Scotland and I've been here ever since."

For weightlifter Peter Kirkbride, Glasgow will be a chance to upgrade the silver he won in Delhi

He said: "I've done what the others haven't done. I've won tournaments in Glasgow," he said, grinning widely.

"When I came back to Kilmarnock it was like I'd won gold. Everything was wild and it was great for the club and myself."

The 26-year-old noted that there was some irony in the difference between claiming that medal and winning the biggest prize of all that time.

He said: "My dog's named Kilo... he was named before I lost by a kilo."

If he can go one better this time around few will have earned it more since the jobs he has undertaken, lugging bags of cement previously and now tarmacing roads evoke images of bygone times when those engaged in the toughest sports invariably had backgrounds to match.

He added: "The things I've had to sacrifice to get here would make it all worth it if I got gold."

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